Friday, November 29, 2013

Are Your Students "Wild Readers?"

I'm so excited to have Donalyn Miller's new book, Reading in the Wild, in my possession.  Two summers ago, my teammates and I read her first book, The Book Whisperer, and it really changed the way I taught reading in my classroom.  I am happy to say that this new book does not disappoint.  I thought I would share a few things Reading in the Wild has gotten me thinking about as I work my way through it.
1.  Recognize your"Wild Readers."
A wild reader is someone who:
     * Dedicates time to read -- Every single day, no matter how crazy life gets.
     * Are confident in self-selecting their reading material
     * Share books and their reading with others by talking about their reading
     * Have a plan for what they want to read beyond their current book.  (Think "book pile.")
     * Have strong preferences for they kinds of books they like to read

Think of the students in your room.  Can you recognize who your wild readers are?  They could quite possibly be those students who you need to interact with the least.  Those students who move seamlessly from one book to the next, never wasting time during silent reading time by spending 20 minutes in the classroom library, using the restroom, or "forgetting" their book in their backpack or at home.  They are the ones who visit their "reading zone" on a regular basis and are not distracted when they read.  Conferencing with them reveals a deep and rich understanding of and love for reading.  They don't need reminders to read -- it's just what they do.

2.  Spend time observing your students as they read to notice "fake reading".
Reading in the Wild contains some excellent resources in the appendix.  One that I really like is the Independent Reading Time Observation Form.
Miller suggests observing students who do not seem to be making growth for ten minutes over the course of three days.  For each minute, record the student's reading behaviors on this form.  

I tried this with one of my students who was struggling to complete books and keep up with his AR goal. The results were amazing as for showing me how much time he was NOT reading and led to a very important discussion with the student about fake reading as I worked with him to choose books that were more on his ability and interest level.

3.  Teach students to "Read on the Edge."
Reading on the Edge means that readers capture even the tiniest moments for reading.  In the car going to grandmas?  Take out a book.  Waiting at the dentist?  Take out a book.  Eating breakfast?  Take out a book.  Miller suggests having students keep track of times they are bored or not doing anything throughout the day.  These moments can become Reading on the Edge moments.  She even includes a form in the appendix for recording these captured reading moments to see just how much they can add up to.
Every day for homework, my students are assigned 20 minutes of reading.  Miller reminded me that it is important to share with the students that these 20 minutes do not need to be consecutive, they can be "edge" minutes.  I know that many students struggle to read for these 20 minutes straight because of responsibilities at home or with outside activities.  Teaching students to capture any time they have to read will add up and keep them reading.

So those are the highlights of my learning from chapter 1.  I will share more of my discoveries with you as I keep reading.

Today is the last day to enter my Rafflecopter to win a set of my  Reading Challenge Genre Tags.  Enter now and good luck!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Tried it Tuesday --

I was looking over my posts from the past month and it hit me how absent I've been from the blogging world :((.  Like many of you, life has been so crazy.  I keep telling myself that it MUST slow down soon....right???  I have one more day until my Thanksgiving vacation starts ....I can do this!  :)

Today I'm linking up with Holly from Fourth Grade Flipper for her very fun weekly linky party, Tried it Tuesday.
On Sunday, I was reading about a great website resource over at Erin's I'm Loving Lit called  Erin heard about this website at a Common Core seminar she was at last week and raved about it so I couldn't wait to check it out!

One of the things I LOVE about this website are the interviews with authors.  I scanned through the impressive list of authors and found some great videos to share with my students where published (and popular!) authors share their advice for young writers.

Check out this one from Jerry Spinelli:

After playing this video and a few others, I asked my students to share what pieces of advice they heard.  The answers?  Writers have to be readers.  Writers write about what they know. true and I couldn't have said it better myself!

The kids loved seeing their favorite authors talk about writing (and seeing what they looked like.)  There are TONS more videos by authors on and I know I will find more great things to share with my students.

Thanks to Erin at I'm Loving Lit for bringing this resource to my attention and to Holly for allowing me to share it with all of you!

Before I go, just a quick reminder to enter my Rafflecopter for a chance to win my new 40 Reading Challenge Genre Tags from my TpT Store.  Enter by Friday for a chance to win.  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

A Peek at My Week {11-23-13}

Happy weekend-before-Thanksgiving and welcome back for another edition of  A Peek at My Week!  Like many of you, I am counting down the minutes until Thursday because this will be our first break from school since we began in early September.  It's been a long time coming and I am going to cherish every moment!
I'm not sure about the weather where you live, but here in Wisconsin, I think winter has arrived.  We have already had our first snow (thankfully now melted) and I think it was a high of 20 degrees today.  Brrr..... Makes me want to sit in front of the fire with a nice mug of hot cocoa and a blanket.  I think my pup Rosie had the right idea this morning when she found a spot of sun to warm herself.
We only have three days of school this week so it is going to be a short one.  I'm excited to announce that a student in my class is about to meet the 40 Book Reading Challenge.  (Read at least 40 books in a variety of genres)  How did my students become so motivated to read lately?  I have to honestly say that I think it is because of my new TpT product, Reading Genre Tags.

After reading Donalyn Miller's The Book Whisperer, I knew the book challenge was something I wanted to try.  Last year, I rolled out the program and had students record their reading on a chart in their reading folder.  How did it go???  Terribly.  Students either lost their recording sheet or forgot all about the challenge so it was a big FLOP.

This year, I got smarter!

I created a sticker chart for the challenge and posted the challenge chart on the board.  When a student would finish a book in a particular genre (and pass the AR test with a score of 80 or higher), he or she would fill out their challenge chart and we would put a sticker in that category on the sticker chart.  This made my students' reading more visual and public -- easier to keep track of.  How did it go this time???  A little better, but still not great.

Enter my new  Reading Genre Tags that I just posted to my TpT store.

Now when a student has read a book, they record it on their challenge sheet, we put a sticker on the challenge chart, AND they get a genre tag to wear on a necklace around their neck every day.  How did is it going now???  FABULOUSLY!!!  :)  :)  :)

My students love the Genre Tags and compete with each other to see who can earn more or certain kinds.  They are loving independent reading time, reading longer than required at home every night, and are so excited every time they are given a new tag. (There is a different tag for each of the 40 books.)

So this week we will celebrate the first student to meet the Reading Genre Challenge!  What an accomplishment for this young lady!!

Want a chance to win your own set of my Reading Challenge Genre Tags?  Enter the Rafflecopter below by Friday.  The winner will be announced on next weekend's Peek at my Week so be sure to check back to see if you are a winner!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Before I go, I want to announce the winner of my Native American Museum product --  Christin W of Shifting Teacher K-2!!  Congratulations Christin!  Check your email!

(BTW -- Thank you to all of you who pinned my new product....But please be sure to check that you are not a "no reply blogger" because your email was not attached to your comment.  Many of you were....)

So now it's your turn to link up and give us a Peek at your mini-Week.

But before I go, I want to wish you all a very blessed Thanksgiving!  I am very fortunate to be surrounded by so much and I am very thankful for all of it!  Thank you for being a part of that.  :)

Sunday, November 17, 2013

A Peek at My Week {11-17-13}

Welcome to another edition of A Peek at My Week!
I am so excited to see all the bloggers who link up with me every Sunday to share a peek at their upcoming week!  I have gotten so many great ideas from all of you -- keep sharing!  If you haven't had a chance to link up in past weeks, why not do it today?  We all are here to learn from each other and it's a great way to generate more traffic to your blog.  :)

This week, I am excited to announce that I am *finally* adding a new product to my TpT Store!  This was not the product I was hoping to post this week (due to MAJOR technical difficulties), but this one is just as fun. Native American Museum Research Product.
This past Thursday, our 4th graders finished up their research products and were able to tour our Native American Museum to learn about other tribes that are important to our state's history.  They had a TON of fun with this project and learned a lot about life in the past.

This product is available in my TpT Store for only $4.00 or you can "Pin It to Win It" by pinning one of the pictures above and leaving the link in your comments below.  Winner will be announced at next week's Peek!

Also on my agenda for this week is taking my son out for some driving practice.  I have to admit, this scares the LIFE out of me!  I am sooooo not ready for this....but he is, so we must practice!
Extra prayers would be appreciated!!!

Now it's your turn!  Link up below to let us know what's going on in your world this week.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

A Peek at My Week {11-10-13}

For those of you who have been looking for me to post this week's linky party, A Peek at My Week, I apologize that I am getting to this so late!  I will try to be earlier in the weeks to come ;).
Whew....I am so glad ECSTATIC that last week is history!!!  We had WKCE state testing all week -- an hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon -- EVERY day.  My poor kiddos were so tested out at the end of Friday that I felt so bad for them.  I don't know about you, but I hate being out of my daily routine so I know what they must have felt like.  I'm looking forward to a "normal" week this week....

So here's what I have planned...

Writing:  We will be working on the local annual writing anthology contest.  This year's theme is "Figure it Out."  I really like this year's theme because I think the kids can do a lot with it -- the interpretation is up to them.  We'll see how it goes!

Social Studies:  Every day after we finished WKCE testing last week, we worked on our Native American Museum projects.  Students worked in groups to research a Native American tribe that is important to Wisconsin's history and are putting together a museum "display" to teach others about their tribe.  The kids were loving this activity and took their research very seriously.

Our Museum Walk will be on Thursday.

TpT:  I'm excited to announce that I (think) I will be ready to post a big project to my TpT Store later this week.  I have been working on it for awhile, and I don't want to say too much, but I can tell you it is something that will motivate your students to read A LOT!  (Check back later!  ;)

So now it's your turn!  Link up below and share a Peek at Your Week.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

A Peek at My Week {11-04-13}

Happy Sunday!  What are you doing with your extra hour today?  I managed to get myself and my two teenagers to early church (8:00) and back home before 10:00.

Then I took my son, Ryan, driving for the VERY FIRST TIME.  It actually went really well.  I was a lot calmer than he was and once he figured out which pedal was the brake and which was the gas, the ride got a lot smoother.  We went up the street, turned around in the cul-de-sac then came back up the driveway.  I think I'll let his dad take it from here.  After all, I taught Ryan how to walk, how to talk, how to ride a bike, how to use the potty, and pretty much gave him life....I think teaching him to drive should be dad's duty, don't you?

Anyways....on with A Peek at My Week!
Teaching wise, this will be a very light week due to five days of state testing.  Blahh...

While there is nothing that can really be done to "study" for the test, I feel my kiddos are ready.  As a little motivator every day, I found these fun postcards at Technology Rocks. Seriously and will leave a different message on my kiddos' desks along with a piece of candy every morning.

Aren't those fun?  

Also, on Saturday I will be presenting my inquiry project on using mentor texts to revise writing at the UW-Milwaukee Writing Project's Conference on the Teaching of Writing.  This is the highlight of our summer institute and I'm looking forward to seeing all of my writing friends again.

Now it's your turn!  What's going on in your world this week?

Saturday, November 2, 2013

CURRENTLY November....WHAT???

How did October manage to sneak by???  Is anyone else feeling this way?  I had a dream the other night that it was June and summer vacation was starting.  It was SO REAL!  Of course, when I woke up, I was a little relieved that I didn't miss eight months of my life, but the way October went, it sure seemed possible.

So without further ado, here's what I'm CURRENTLY doing for November, compliments of Farley at Oh' Boy 4th Grade.  (Better capture that "currently" before it turns into a "recently"...)

Listening:  I love the early morning when no one else is awake and there is pure silence in the house.  This is my time to read (or, more likely, spend an hour on Pinterest).

Loving:  Our local apple orchard picks the apples for you and puts them all in large barrels.  If you walk around and put a nice variety in your bag, you will get the BEST pies!   I think I will head there today...

Thinking:  I am very lucky to have the family, friends and "things" in my life that I have been given.  More and more every day, I realize that not everyone has these gifts, which makes me appreciate them even more.

Wanting:  It is going to be a rather cool day...a perfect time to bake something yummy!

Needing:  No matter how much I think I won't forget, if I don't write things down I spend more time trying to remember what I was supposed to remember than actually doing it.  Such a waste of time!  If I would just spend the 15 seconds to write things down, I would have so much more time in my day.

Yummy Pin:  Saw this one on Pinterest this morning (you know, when I was spending my early morning hours "reading"):
Pumpkin Cake, Pumpkin Layer Cake, Cream Cheese Frosting, Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting, Maple Cream Cheese Frosting,
Doesn't this look delicious???  Love this recipe from The Novice Chef.  You might just find one of these in my oven later today!

So that's what I've CURRENTLY got going on!  

Check back tomorrow for my weekly linky party, A Peek at My Week!  I hope you will link up and share some highlights of your upcoming week!
Until tomorrow....Have a great Saturday!